The Khmer Rouge

Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy, but it has an awful history. And one that is not often spoken about in the West. I won’t go into the finer details here, but if you have time, please look them up. It won’t take long.
Between 1969 and 1973 US forces bombed Cambodia in an effort to disrupt the Viet Cong and Khmer Rouge (a communist group active in Cambodia). Following Khmer Rouge’s ascension to power on the 17th April 1975, Pol Pot warned that the US were planning further attacks on Cambodia and carried out a full evacuation of the cities. There were no bombings. 
Khmer Rouge aimed to turn Cambodia into a classless society. The regime modelled itself on Maoist China, and attempted to rebuild the country’s agriculture on the model of the 11th century. I’m no expert on the 11th century – my historical knowledge is limited to 1066 and the Norman conquest of England (and even that’s patchy!) – but unless mass genocide was a common feature of the era, which I don’t think it was, then Pol Pot failed. I’m not sure that was ever his intention though. 
Modern research has located 20,000 mass graves from the Khmer Rouge regime all over Cambodia, with an estimated 3 million deaths. A staggering number. In four years 3 million people were tortured and murdered at sites like Choeung Ek, which I had the opportunity to visit during my month away. 8,895 bodies have been excavated from the Choeung Ek site. Along with the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (also known as S-21, a former school) this was an extremely emotional visit. Security Prison 21 housed a total of 17,000 people during the Khmer Rouge’s four year reign. There were only eleven survivors. 
Visits like this help to put our struggles in perspective. In no way am I trying to demean the problems that we face; but we should not forget that others have suffered too. 


10 Comments Add yours

  1. carlalouise89 says:

    Reblogged this on Coalition of the Brave.

  2. darthtimon says:

    The brutality of these regimes reminds us that as a species we have a long way to go.

  3. Lusuna says:

    I find Cambodian history absolutely fascinating! Great post

    1. M_McKeen says:

      Thank you! It was not something that I was familiar with before visiting, but there are definitely some lessons that we could all do with learning. :/

  4. Wow, you’ve witnessed something so tragic and raw. It’s hard to put into words how this makes me feel, other than astounded by the evil people are capable of. I’m thankful that the genocides are over, though I’m sure the survivors feel the repercussions every day. Sharing our experiences when we learn about things like this is really important, as silence dooms people to repeat history, I think.

    1. M_McKeen says:

      The worst thing about this is that it feels so recent. It only took place in the 70s which wasn’t that long ago. Nobody was aware of it at the time, in fact, the United Nations actually recognised Khmer Rouge as the ruling party of Cambodia and frequently gave them money.
      I couldn’t agree with you more, but unfortunately things similar to this still happen today and will continue to happen in the future too I suspect :/

      1. Yes of course you’re right, there is unimaginable violence happening right now in other parts of the world…and it is unfortunately likely to continue…it’s unbelievably sad. It’s hard to believe that no one was aware of the Khmer Rouge’s violence, and that the UN gave them money…how could people be so blind to it?

      2. M_McKeen says:

        I really don’t know. I guess, even today, we tend to turn a blind eye to things we don’t want to believe are true. We kinda live in a world of fantasy sometimes :/

      3. It’s true, isn’t it? The popular conception of reality is so misleading…this could lead us down a rabbit hole of deep thoughts!

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